Catherine Hambley, PhD, is CEO of Brain-Based Strategies Consulting, where she specializes in executive coaching, leadership and team development and organizational transformation. Catherine has an extensive background in healthcare, where she works with physicians, nurses and hospital executives to create cultures of learning, collaboration and engagement.
Agile leadership means finding out what's important to your staff members, then using that unique knowledge to conquer problems and encourage excellence.
What do you find most challenging about managing your practice? If you are thinking about the difficulties of motivating staff, or having staff do things the way you want, or keeping talented people, then you are not alone. These are just some of the myriad challenges of managing staff. And the more staff you employ, the more perplexing it can be. Don't despair, read on and learn some strategies you can use to engage your people (and therefore, lessen your stress).
As a physician seeing multiple patients everyday, you already know that their personalities can be as varied as their physical attributes. Some patients are gregarious, talkative, and cheerful. Some are timid and quiet. Some are fearful and guarded. Others are assertive and provocative. Add to this mixture that every patient that walks into your office has a unique set of circumstances that further impact how they show up in your office. And you probably find that you relate more effectively with some and less effectively with others. That's because you have your own set of personality traits and tendencies that get added to the interaction.
Like your patients, your staff also comes to work with their own personalities and circumstances - and you probably notice that you relate better with some than with others. Just like no two people are alike, we can also see that no two brains are alike. That means that every person will be motivated by different factors, will feel threatened by different triggers, and will see their world through a unique set of lenses. That means that how you relate to different people will impact them differently. So let's start to untangle this web of complexity.
Often, physicians find it difficult to manage staff because they inevitably treat people the way they themselves want to be treated. Instead, the secret to successful interactions is to remember that how you want to be treated is far less important than howthey want to be treated! In fact, the number one dynamic to consider is that the more you can understand about what is important to a person, the more effective you will be in your ability to impact and influence others. And isn't that what you would like to be able to do?
So here are some key approaches to consider:
1. Get Curious
Find out what is important to every person on your staff. How can you do that? Start by asking good questions. Get curious about what matters to them. Ask them what they need to be most successful at work. Ask them what they find most rewarding about their job and what they find most challenging. Find out what strategies they use in their lives to cope with difficult and stressful situations. Ask what tends to bring out the best in them. Find out what motivates them and what causes them to feel threatened or triggered.
2. Leverage each person's strengths
Once you know what your staff members find most rewarding at work, you can work with them to find ways to take advantage of this knowledge to inspire commitment and on-the-job excellence. Perhaps there are ways to have them do more of the rewarding aspects of their jobs. Or maybe you can ask them to help mentor other staffers (is this a correct word?) in that same area (usually the things we find most rewarding are the things we develop more skill in). It would also benefit both staff members and your practice to provide additional training in areas where there is high interest and a need for new skill sets, so that staff can continue to grow and learn.
3. Help staff discover strategies to better cope with challenges
There are two primary ways to improve coping skills - minimize exposure to the challenge or learn to cope differently so that it is less stressful. Help staff think through both methods, asking them to come up with what might work best for them. (Let them try to arrive at their own solutions because that is ultimately what will work best).
4. Consider situational aspects
External factors may be affecting a staffer's ability to cope effectively. If staff members seem out of sorts or are responding atypically, something may have happened - ask if there is anything they wish to share with you, that might help them process their feelings, or if there is anything you can provide to help deal with their situation, like flexible hours or personal time.
Employ these strategies and get the best from your people. They will feel greater work success and satisfaction, will feel cared about, will produce better results, and will be more likely to want to stay working for you.